Friday, February 27, 2015

Sessions with Sue 31

Today's session was fantastic! Well it was in retrospect, once the irritation in my eyes and the crying-induced migraine passed. I'd like to say that I had what one would call a "breakthrough". I've been really depressed lately mostly due to my weight/appearance/stalled weight loss progress, but in our session we instead discussed difficulties with the job search and my trepidation about the future. Through this avenue we struck a key issue of mine: my fixation with needing to be special. And this goes wayyy back, probably all the way back to elementary school. Ever since elementary school people would commend me for doing things well, and I enjoyed being a high-achiever, and so it became cemented in my mind that Deela is someone who does things well. I have to live up to that. I have to always do things well, I have to excel because that's just what Deela does. I guess I was lying when I told Ma that I didn't want to be admired by others.

  • Always felt like you needed to be special, different from others, remarkable, recognized and remembered for doing/being the extraordinary
  • That's what makes this time difficult; feeling like you're 22, graduating from college, and haven't done anything great, all you've managed to be is just a regular student. Or being reminded through this so-far unsuccessful job search process that you're just one of many again
  • Want to be set apart, yet you're plagued by the awareness that there are always others who can do things better than you; you're setting yourself up for an extreme that you can't reach
  • Even just a little networking is something you'll have to do; but just because it's contrary to your nature or you haven't done much of it doesn't mean all is lost; the work you've done still counts for something
  • What's wrong with being a regular, typical person? Would that really be so bad?
  • Contentment equals complacency, stagnancy, giving up in your mind; just accepting the way things are feels like admitting defeat
  • But being content with where you are in life and working toward something greater do not have to be mutually exclusive
  • Even though you're not looking forward to graduation, one thing to consider is that you'll no longer have anything expected of you in the way of readings and assignments. Your time will be yours again; you can focus more on what Deela wants instead of always feeling like you can't sacrifice the time to do anything that deviates from the to-do list
  • Very results-oriented person; rather than just going along with journey, or taking comfort in the idea that you're exactly where you're supposed to be, or doing something simply because you enjoy it and it interest you, you're concerned with whether it will yield favorable results or not
  • You're right, from here on out the trajectory of your life depends on you; open-ended, no prescribed route, and that's terrifying; but maybe you could just pick something and see how it goes, rather than agonizing over whether it's exactly the best or right choice

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Miss my Pups!

I miss going to the shelter. Last time I went the trails weren't shoveled or plowed,  so I couldn't really walk any of the dogs. Couple that with the frigid temperatures and harsh winds, and it just hasn't seemed worth the energy driving all the way out there.

It looks like we'll transition out of the teens next week and gradually move on to warmer pastures from the following week on,  so I'm looking forward to returning to the shelter after spring break.

For now,  here's a photo I took during my second to last time there. Don't remember the name of the dog I was walking, but apparently he was friendly. 

Can't win 'em all (Open Mic Night again).

Had been anticipating performing at open mic last night again for the past week. But then started feeling crummy about my voice, myself and life in general, and wasn't in the mood for singing yesterday. Decided I wasn't gonna do it. But then remembered that when I'd woken up in the morning there was a cardinal sitting on a branch outside my window, and since this is one of my good luck signs (something good always happens after I see one), I felt like I had to do it. Plus, needed the practice performing again to build up experience and confidence. So I did it. And... it wasn't so great. Don't like the way I sounded. Certainly don't like how I look on camera this time.

But I went through with it, even despite not feeling up to it. So for that alone I'll give myself some credit. Even if last night wasn't my most shining moment, at least I went for it.

The first is a song called "Louisville", named after the city that Ma and her family are from. It's a place that's close to my heart, so I wrote a song about it. A silly song with a few hiccups.

The second is part of a song called "上を向いて歩こう" (Ue o Muite Arukou), which came out in the 1960s and is sung by Sakamoto Kyuu. The writer of the song penned the lyrics expressing how dejected he felt when protests failed to prevent the passing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan (a.k.a. the reason why US military and political presence remains in Japan even though the occupation ended 50 years ago). The song is often recognized  more as a love song than a political song, but nonetheless it has the inspirational message of moving forward amidst adversity ("look up so the tears won't fall"). It also performed extremely well on the Billboard Hot 100 charts (reaching #1 when it was released in the States), and has sold over 13 million copies around the world. I learned of the song in my 200-level Japanese class freshman year, where my professor played us a video of a 2011 remake/mashup of the song that Japanese artists and locals made to encourage victims of the 2010 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Thanks to Shay for recording and Irene for being there to show support!

And don't forget to like me and Hilena's pages for First of February (FB / YouTube)! More vids to come from (featuring BOTH of us) in the future!

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Networking" is a dirty word.

Today I met with a career adviser who informed me of the 30-70 rule. According this rule, when searching for job opportunities one should spend 30% of their time on job boards and 70% of their time connecting with people. Why? According to her, the listings you see online comprise only 1/3 of all that's out there. The other 2/3 is part of a sort of "hidden job market" where jobs are filled through either in-house referrals or people who have connections to current employees.

She put it plainly, "That's just the way things are now. That's how it works."

Geez. You can imagine my disappoint and stroke of panic upon hearing this horrible news, seeing as how my job search so far has consisted solely of looking at postings on job boards and organization/company websites. (I've been applying to numerous jobs since the beginning of January and haven't been receiving responses; thus the advising appointment.) Now, of course I've been drilled on the so-called importance of networking since freshman year, but I didn't think it was that deep. Like "networking" is the trend right now, but I was sure that that couldn't be the only way to get in the door. People still get by on their own  merit and effort, right? Wrong.

Obviously, this doesn't bode well for someone like me who is shy, who isn't already acquainted with a ton of people, who is a good communicator but doesn't like talking just for the sake of talking, and who's encumbered by her own conscience to side-eye "networking" as a practice in schmoozing and cunning disingenuousness rather than a valuable career/people skill.

Lawd, do I have my work cut out for me...

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Does anyone else's mom only use the word "mother" when they're trying to put you in your place or make you feel bad about something? 

Like "Don't talk to me like that!  I'm your mother."

Or, "I'm your mother,  I'm supposed to (insert any variation of her doingtoomuch)."

Or, "Humor your mother, please? Just do this one favor for your mother."

That word is just.... ugh. "Mother" is such a cold, odd, formal, cumbersome, stiff, awkward word. I don't like it. Ma doesn't even like it (if I were to actually call her "mother", she'd shudder). But I'll tell you what, she sure does wield it when she wants to.


While we were practicing a song last night, Hilena was trying to decide whether she should belt a certain section or sing it softly as she usually sings most things. She decided to give belting a try, commenting that:

"I've learned that I need to belt more in life." -Hilena, my music friend who isn't afraid to push herself

And then coincidentally, when I skimmed through PostSecret this morning my eyes landed on this particular postcard:

As someone who often feels lonely and confused, I was awestruck and deeply moved. I guess this is supposed to mean that when you know yourself, you can celebrate yourself (or at least know that you're not lacking), which means you don't need other people around to make you feel like you're somebody. Or, you can be sure that you're worth being around even when there's no one there.

Self-knowledge is indeed some powerful stuff.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sessions with Sue 30

It's been two weeks since our last session, so today we mainly just talked about what's been going on since then, which isn't much. During the latter half we focused most on my concerns about the future/life post-grad. Part of the reason why I'm not enjoying the ride as many seniors in their last semester are is because I'm focused on being prepared for the future and constantly feel like I haven't done enough. Perhaps I didn't do the right things or make the right choices, otherwise I might have something lined up by now, I'm obviously not doing something right, what's going to happen to me, I don't wanna have to move back in with my mom, I don't want to end up not getting anywhere or not making anything of myself... blahdeblahblah. And this worrying is tied to my longstanding habit of not spending much time reveling in my accomplishments; instead I tend to diminish them either via comparison or my age-old theory that one can always do better:
  • People ask you if you're excited about graduating/graduation and that question doesn't make sense to you. You wonder what that's supposed to mean. "What's there to be excited about? How can one be excited when there's so much to be done and to prepare for?", you say
  • You're right, in theory people can always do more, do better, be better. But in reality, most of the time they don't. However much they've done is however much they've done, and that's it. Plus, people tend to try to do things with the least amount of effort or sacrificed required as possible. But these past four years you haven't been doing any of that half-stepping.
  • Two degrees, two languages, two study abroad experiences, three internships, 3.9 GPA, honors distinction, all in four years.You did that all on your own. No one did that for you; you did that. And you should be proud of yourself, even if you're not sure that you've done enough, and even if what's next is still up in the air
  • When your family comes to graduation, let them be excited for you! Let them celebrate your accomplishments without you trying to squash it or quiet it down.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Excited to watch 'Empire' tonight! Other than 'Being Mary Jane' that's the only show that I make an effort to catch every week. Although, I'm sure I'd enjoy tonight's dose of dramatic-swag-craziness more if I had my trusty couch buddy to accompany me. 

As you can see, she's not really into TV either.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Secret French Half-Brother

I had a superbly awesome dream last night! But before I tell you about it, first let me be a little candid about my family for a moment.

My family has recently expanded because... one of my older cousins recently found out that he has a grown 20-something-year-old son that he hadn't known about! This cousin of mine is a deacon, who's married and already has three kids and a grandchild. Scandalous, right? Well, that's what you'd like to think. But after some initial shockwaves once the news had made it all the way through the grapevine, everyone's actually been pretty cool about it. And just this Sunday the family went out to eat in celebration of another cousin's birthday, and this New Long-Lost Cousin, his fiancée, and their two kids were in attendance. No more secrets, no drama, it's all good.

Now. Ma and I had been discussing this last night, and coincidentally I dreamt that I became acquainted with my own secret brother the same age as me! Except.... He was French! Yes, my dad had apparently had a son with a French woman. Which makes no sense considering he's never been to France and I doubt he's ever met a French person in his life, but moving on.

This French half-brother of mine's name started with the letter "M", he was light-skinned, loved hip-hop, liked wearing hoodies and snapbacks, and overall was just an extremely cool dude. And despite the awkward circumstances, we took to each other right away! In this dream, he made his way over to the States from France so that we could bond and he could experience America for the first time, and we were like homies. We got along extremely well, we spoke a mixture of French and English to each other (I learned from him and he learned from me), and we never argued about anything, not even where my dad was concerned.

M was so likeable that he just attracted people to him. So much so that by the end of my dream he had more American friends than I do, despite initially not knowing anyone or being able to speak English very well! My French half-brother was, in short, the bomb.

And I have no shame in admitting that when I woke up from that dream this morning, my first thought was Dang, now I want a long-lost half brother too! Someone to relate to because we're close in age, someone to occasionally rag on my dad with, someone to practice French with, a reason to visit France regularly and actually have a place to stay when I go there... Man. If only that'd been real.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Something you "do"

Yesterday in my Japanese lit class we were discussing the question of why certain characters in Fumiko Hayashi's Floating Clouds would believe in the fictional Great Sunshine Religion even if they knew it was a crock? One guy raised his hand, and I won't go into what his response was, but he prefaced it with "Well, I was raised Christian─but I don't really do that anymore..."

Hearing that hurt my heart a little bit. Not because he's not a believer anymore, but because he characterized Christianity as something that you "do". Like it's a hobby, or a chore, or a task, or any other thing you might do mechanically and habitually, without it especially meaning anything to you. Something you "do", as in something that some are "good" at and others are "bad" at. And that, my friend, is just not the case. Granted, Christianity is somewhat of a practice, in that you have to live it and work at it everyday. Furthermore, all Christians struggle to walk The Walk (if anyone tells you otherwise, they're lying to you). But it's so much more than something you "do" or not. Faith isn't simply about "doing". Being a follower of Jesus is something that you feel in your soul, something that fills your heart and allows you to think beyond yourself and extend love and light to others. And knowing this, I felt bad for him that that was all he took from it in the end, that being Christian is something you "do", and which was─in his case─not worth doing.

To you, kid-who-doesn't-do-Christianity-anymore, here's praying that you find whatever is true for you, in whatever form it happens to be. May that truth never become something that you just "do".

"She drives like her mother."

Sometime last month I was at the grocery store with Ma when a little girl brushed passed me pushing her dad's shopping cart. Absolutely no harm done, but the man still felt the need to excuse his daughter, "Sorry. She drives like her mom."

And I thought, Huh. What an odd thing to say.

Because first of all, there was no need to for him to apologize, but he did anyway so kudos to him. But then, a simple sorry would have sufficed. Why the extra explanation? Why give me details about your life that I don't care to know? Why insult your daughter's cart-pushing skills? Couldn't you see the little girl had places to go, people to see, and moves to make? That's a hustla in training if you ask me! And why bring her mom into it and insult her driving? I don't even know that lady, and couldn't care less if she drives well or not. Putting her on blast to a complete stranger like that. Tuh!

Seriously though. It's just so odd to me when people add unnecessary explanations to commonplace, courtesy apologies. Or like, when you and a stranger/group of strangers are standing together in a public place like an elevator or a bus stop, and someone feels the need to say something just to break up the silence. In my experience, more often than not it's the vanilla brothers and sisters who do this (which the grocery store man was). Black folks for our part are experts at not saying too much unnecessarily, especially when interacting with people we don't know. (Which is not to say that we're not friendly; we just tend not to be as talkative.) But it seems vanilla brothers and sisters will talk to anybody for no reason at all, and happen to be experts at small talk. Gotta hand it to them for being neighborly, I guess. But sometimes it comes off like they're trying too hard.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Things People Give Me #17

Late this past Saturday I was at Hilena's dorm room trying to prepare for open mic night. Basically I was just singing through songs that I've written and getting her feedback on them and whether she thought they'd be good to sing on Tuesday. 

Hilena's definitely not a slob, but the order in her room had definitely digressed since the last time I was there. And so while I was idly sliding my feet along the carpet I happened to step on this coin, and she let me keep it! It's an Ethiopian 10 cent coin that Hilena brought back from one of her trips to visit family there. And while she insisted that it was basically useless (worth less than one US penny), I thought it was so cool! I still have money that I've kept from going to Quebec, Japan, France, and England, so getting my hands on another foreign currency is exciting to me. Now I have one more to add to my collection! Thanks, Hilena!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fears conquered at open mic night!

Last night was a phenomenal night for me! I conquered one of my fears and sang two of my original songs at open mic night on my university's campus!

The first is a song called "Stay at Home and Sing", which I wrote while in Paris this past summer when I would sometimes get bored with the monotony of going to work and sitting in an office all day, everyday.

The second is an abbreviated version of my song "Up All Night". I wrote this one last school year when I was up late one night doing tedious school work and wondering about where my life was heading.


It may not be perfect, but it's a start. And I'm really proud of myself for going up there and sharing a bit of my work even though I was scared to. Thanks to my buddies Jo, Christen, Shay, and Dan who were there to show their support. Enjoy!

And don't forget to like me and Hilena's pages for First of February (FB / YouTube)! More vids to come from us in the future!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Worth Fighting For"

Yesterday I was having a pretty rough day, and subsequently was entertaining the thoughts of despair and self-loathing that often visit me on rough days. And then this song came on the radio. I've been playing this song over and over since last night, and I haven't yet been able to get through it without tearing up.

Whatever doesn't seem to be going your way right now, remember that you always have plenty of other reasons in life to rejoice, and to not throw it all away or give up on yourself. There is always something in life worth fighting for. You are worth fighting for. YOU are worth fighting for!

Be blessed this weekend. And give this song a listen if you're in doubt. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sessions with Sue 29

Maybe I spoke too soon? Because today's session felt slightly same ol' again. But I'm keeping my hopes up! Today we discussed how depressed I was Monday and Tuesday and how things turned around Tuesday night through a set of fortunate events, the job interview I have coming up on Friday, and my dad harrassing me (yes, still):

  • Having meaningful and lighthearted interactions with people often does make you feel better, even on those dark days when you'd rather retreat and hide, and even if it's awkward or uncomfortable at first
  • Your thoughts create your feelings, so consciously try to replace those negative thoughts when they come with ones that make you feel happy
    • Like instead of thinking about how dumb your French linguistics class makes you feel, think about how calm and fulfilled you feel when you walk dogs through the woods at the shelter

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Going My Way

"I have got too many good things going on in my life to not be okay with myself just because one thing isn't going my way."

 -Esse, my friend.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Marley the Snowbunny


In the middle of our walk this past Saturday, Marley was not impressed.


Apparently, walking through snow pales in comparison to repeatedly stop-drop-and -rolling around in it for minutes at a time while your confused handler can do nothing but wait for you to finish.

Thank you, Mr. scraggly-looking pup/teddy bear/lion cub for being another dog-walking first for me: a dog who adores snow like none other.


Marley is still up for adoption! If you're looking for a beautiful young male who's goofy yet alert and can tough it out through winter snows, check out his profile HERE.

 **(UPDATE 2/3)** Marley found his forever home today! I hope your new family appreciates your quirks. Happy rolling!

Sessions with Sue 28

This past Friday went so much better than the last session, which was encouraging given the concerns I've been having! We mostly talked about the career fair/events that I went to, my meeting Shay and our subsequent open mic night deal (I got her to sing last Tuesday so next Tuesday I have to do it!), my weight woes, and of course, my dad harrassing me through text and voicemail:

  • Part of frustration you're having with your weight and your dad is that they're out of your control
    • doing what you've been told are all the right things, but weight's not coming off
    • been ignoring your dad for four months and haven't done anything to antagonize him, but he still won't leave you alone. 
  • For you, your dad's like the dark spot in your life; try to forget about it but it always resurfaces; it's like it's always on your back
  • that you feel this way indicates that it's unresolved (?); not doing anything or engaging with him at all is probably fine for now; but at some pint you'll have to figure out how you'll handle this thing for the long run

Sunday, February 1, 2015

First big snow storm of the year.

Something I learned this evening: Walking a mile and a half through a blizzard is a lot more enjoyable when you have a pajama-clad dude walking his dog ahead of you for distraction.

Be safe and warm tonight y'all, ok? While I continue drying off...

Big Eyes

I went to see this movie over three weeks ago and forgot to write about it. Not because it wasn't worth writing about, mind you; I just got caught up and it slipped my mind. On the contrary, given the overall unappealing cinematic options that the holiday season had to offer, I'm actually glad that I kicked off my 2015 filmgoing with this one.

Seen Saturday January 10th: Big Eyes

In the 1950s and 60s, Margaret Keane is at first elated when her second husband Walter Keane recognizes her talent and gets her paintings noticed, promoting and selling them under the name "KEANE". But as the big-eyed waifs cause a stir in the art world and became a hot commodity nationwide, Walter takes all the credit, locking Margaret in a room to continually produce paintings whilst getting no recognition. When she finally decides to leave the relationship and stand up for her work, she has to battle it out in court to prove to the world that she is the real artist. Based on a true story. Directed by Tim Burton.

"She created it. He sold it. And everyone bought it."

What I really like about this film: This is quite the peculiar story! I'd read an article in People that implied that Margaret didn't know what Walter was doing with her paintings, nor that her work was famous and the "hot thing" in art at the time. But in the film it makes clear that Margaret did know, but  wasn't originally aware of her husband's maniacal, money-hungry, and attention-starved intentions. For years she hadn't spoken up to claim her work because she didn't believe people would support a woman artist. She naively trusted in her husband's business acumen, and was blinded by mid-20th century dogma that told her to obey her husband and let him take care of everything. So the question of complicity made for some confusion on my part at first, but other than that this film's storyline is straightforward.

Another aspect I enjoyed about this film was its style. Of course, being a film about art, this film prioritizes the story in question and stylistic detail and accuracy (this includes color and tone, sets, wardrobe styling and even casting that reflects ethnic demographics). The events take place largely in the San Francisco art scene during the 50s and 60s, which was a particularly tumultuous yet remarkable time in our country's history, but there were no references to major historical events going on at the time. Why? Because the visual aesthetic and the story matter most. Usually I'd have a problem with historical context being missing in such a way, but it actually works well for the film because it shows you what era you're in rather than telling you about it.

Lastly, I have to give kudos to Amy Adams! Her performance was so vulnerable and compelling. She's one of the few actresses I care about, and though I'm not cognizant of all her work I notice that she often takes roles that pay homage to women who do remarkable things (à la Julie and Julia). Much respect to her.

What I don't like about this film: I can't pinpoint anything in particular. One thing I would've liked to know is what inspired Margaret Keane to make portraits of sad-looking, big-eyed children. What led her to take on that subject and how did her particular style develop? That was a question raised in the film, but it was played off by Margaret's  repeated assertion that art is personal. And so we never find out the "why" behind her pieces. But as an artist I can respect her not wanting to give it all away, so to speak. Some things are sacred and personal, so while I am left wondering, I can definitely accept not being privy to that information.

Would I recommend it?: Absolutely!